To Sturgis and Back!

So like hey man, where's the free beer? Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
So like hey man, where’s the free beer? Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs

By Darryl Briggs

Sturgis is a small South Dakota town of about 6,000 people for 50 weeks of each year but for two weeks in early August, it becomes a destination for hundreds of thousands of bikers.

What exactly is Sturgis and what goes on there? Describing Sturgis to someone who has never been there is a difficult task. Many only know about it from what they have seen on TV. Yes, there are wild parties, drinking and half-naked women running around. But when you get hundreds of thousands of bikers showing up to one part of the country a lot of everything happens. And to say that people go to Sturgis for just one thing is a disservice to the wide variety of activities that take place there.

First off, many are there for the scenery. The roads in this part of the country are some of the loveliest to ride anywhere. Bikers go there throughout the spring, summer, and early fall and not just during the rally. Watch the movie Dances With Wolves and you will get an idea of the scenery. The Badlands, the rolling plains, and of course the Black Hills all converge in southwestern South Dakota. This gives motorcycle riders some of the best riding around.

Another great reason to go is to see all the bikes as you literally can’t go anywhere for hundreds of miles without seeing some. Imagine a motorcycle rally centered around Dallas and you pull into a service station in Austin 200 miles away and it’s packed with motorcycles. That is what you see in Sturgis. And of course, along with all those riders are all those bikers. It’s great to be in an area where everyone is there collectively as a whole for the rally, whatever their own individual interpretation of a rally.

If you like concerts, Sturgis has plenty and I don’t mean on one night either. There’s a whole week of concerts. Where else can you see ZZ Top on one night, Kid Rock on another and Toby Keith the night after that. Bands that have  performed at Sturgis include Journey, Def Leppard, Boston, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Poison, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, The Beach Boys, Heart, REO Speedwagon, the list goes on and on. Some comics and even political campaigners show up at Sturgis, including Cheech and Chong, Pee Wee Herman, Larry the Cable Guy, and Senator John McCain.

If big name entertainment isn’t your thing, you always can find a plethora of things to pass the time. There’s midget bowling, MMA fights, motorcycle burn outs or one of the numerous bike shows going on.

Sturgis began with a motorcycle group, the Black Pine Gypsies, hosting motorcycle races some 72 years ago. It mostly was flat track racing back then. The Black Pine Gypsies are still around and in addition to the flat track racing, they host motocross and hill climb events.

With all of these events happening in the middle of some of the best scenic rides and sites in the country, it’s no wonder Sturgis is such a popular destination for bikers.

It’s impossible to see or do everything you may want to do by attending Sturgis only once. So no matter how many times you have been before, there always is something new to check out. And remember, if you get tired of all the events and sites, you can always see the half-naked women.